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AI Is Not Actually an Existential Threat to Humanity, Scientists Say

We encounter synthetic intelligence (AI) every single day. AI describes laptop methods which can be in a position to carry out duties that usually require human intelligence. When you search one thing on the web, the highest outcomes you see are determined by AI.


Any suggestions you get out of your favourite procuring or streaming web sites can even be primarily based on an AI algorithm. These algorithms use your browser historical past to discover belongings you is likely to be interested by.

Because focused suggestions should not notably thrilling, science fiction prefers to depict AI as super-intelligent robots that overthrow humanity. Some folks consider this state of affairs may someday change into actuality. Notable figures, together with the late Stephen Hawking, have expressed concern about how future AI may threaten humanity.

To tackle this concern we requested 11 specialists in AI and Computer Science “Is AI an existential threat to humanity?” There was an 82 p.c consensus that it isn’t an existential menace. Here is what we discovered.

How shut are we to making AI that’s extra clever than us?

The AI that at the moment exists is named ‘slim’ or ‘weak’ AI. It is broadly used for a lot of purposes like facial recognition, self-driving vehicles, and web suggestions. It is outlined as ‘slim’ as a result of these methods can solely study and carry out very particular duties.

They typically truly carry out these duties higher than people – famously, Deep Blue was the primary AI to beat a world chess champion in 1997 – nevertheless they can not apply their studying to something apart from a really particular job (Deep Blue can solely play chess).


Another sort of AI is named Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). This is outlined as AI that mimics human intelligence, together with the power to suppose and apply intelligence to a number of totally different issues. Some folks consider that AGI is inevitable and can occur imminently within the subsequent few years.

Matthew O’Brien, robotics engineer from the Georgia Institute of Technology disagrees, “the long-sought goal of a ‘general AI’ is not on the horizon. We simply do not know how to make a general adaptable intelligence, and it’s unclear how much more progress is needed to get to that point”.

How may a future AGI threaten humanity?

Whilst it isn’t clear when or if AGI will come about, can we predict what menace they could pose to us people? AGI learns from expertise and knowledge as opposed to being explicitly informed what to do. This implies that, when confronted with a brand new scenario it has not seen earlier than, we might not give you the chance to utterly predict the way it reacts.

Dr Roman Yampolskiy, laptop scientist from Louisville University additionally believes that “no version of human control over AI is achievable” as it isn’t potential for the AI to each be autonomous and managed by people. Not having the ability to management super-intelligent methods could possibly be disastrous.


Yingxu Wang, professor of Software and Brain Sciences from Calgary University disagrees, saying that “professionally designed AI systems and products are well constrained by a fundamental layer of operating systems for safeguard users’ interest and wellbeing, which may not be accessed or modified by the intelligent machines themselves.”

Dr O’Brien provides “just like with other engineered systems, anything with potentially dangerous consequences would be thoroughly tested and have multiple redundant safety checks.”

Could the AI we use at the moment change into a menace?

Many of the specialists agreed that AI could possibly be a menace within the flawed palms. Dr George Montanez, AI skilled from Harvey Mudd College highlights that “robots and AI systems do not need to be sentient to be dangerous; they just have to be effective tools in the hands of humans who desire to hurt others. That is a threat that exists today.”

Even with out malicious intent, at the moment’s AI may be threatening. For instance, racial biases have been found in algorithms that allocate well being care to sufferers within the US. Similar biases have been present in facial recognition software program used for legislation enforcement. These biases have wide-ranging adverse impacts regardless of the ‘slim’ potential of the AI.

AI bias comes from the info it’s educated on. In the instances of racial bias, the coaching knowledge was not consultant of the final inhabitants. Another instance occurred in 2016, when an AI-based chatbox was discovered sending extremely offensive and racist content material. This was discovered to be as a result of folks have been sending the bot offensive messages, which it learnt from.

The takeaway:

The AI that we use at the moment is exceptionally helpful for a lot of totally different duties.

That does not imply it’s at all times constructive – it’s a device which, if used maliciously or incorrectly, can have adverse penalties. Despite this, it at the moment appears to be unlikely to change into an existential menace to humanity.

Article primarily based on 11 skilled solutions to this query: Is AI an existential menace to humanity?

This skilled response was revealed in partnership with unbiased fact-checking platform Subscribe to their weekly publication right here.


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Monday, May 10, 2021
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